Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department / School

Health and Nutritional Sciences

First Advisor

Kendra Kattelmann


children, dietary intakes, parenting practices, parenting styles, parents, preschoolers


Emerging research efforts have focused on the role of parents in the development of dietary behaviors of their children. Parental influences play a particularly important role in determining the children’s weight and shaping children’s dietary behaviors, especially during early childhood. Parent-related determinants can be classified as two types—general parenting (parenting style) and specific parenting practices (e.g, food parenting practices). Examining the interactions between parental influences and preschoolers’ and their parental dietary behaviors and may reveal important insights into how parents influence children’s dietary behaviors. Therefore, the goal of this research is to examine the associations between parenting styles, food parenting practices, and dietary intakes of preschoolers and their parents. This research was a part of the iGrow Readers program conducted in 2016. A total of 293 parent/child (3-5 years old) dyads were recruited from preschools/daycare centers in South Dakota, Minnesota, and Nebraska. In general, this dissertation includes: 1) conducting exploratory factor analysis to an original existing home environment assessment—the Comprehensive Home Environment Survey (CHES), to identify and evaluate modified factor structures about food parenting practices; 2) identifying the associations between parenting styles and dietary intakes (including nutrients and food group intakes) of preschool-aged children and their parents; and 3) examining the relationship between food parenting practices and dietary intakes of preschool-aged children and their parents. To modify the original CHES, a content map of food parenting practices was used as a framework to help select items from CHES and guide identification of relevant constructs. A total of 172 parents completed the original CHES. The exploratory factor analysis revealed 40 items that identified 10 food parenting practices factors (subconstructs) under three broad constructs; 4 subconstructs (21 items) within Structure, 4 subconstructs (14 items) within Coercive Control, and 2 subconstructs (5 items) within Autonomy Support. By identifying alternative factor structures, the refined CHES was expected to provide a comprehensive measurement of food parenting practices. In addition, this study examined the relationship between general parenting styles and dietary intakes of preschool-aged children and their parents. Parenting styles was measured by Parenting Dimensions Inventory-Short (PDI-S) survey and dietary information were collected by Harvard Service Food Frequency Questionnaire (HSFFQ). A total of 218 parent participants completed both surveys. Kruskal-Wallis test and multiple linear regression analyses were performed to examine the association between dietary intakes of preschool children/parents and four parenting styles (i.e., authoritative, authoritarian, indulgent, and uninvolved). Overall, the main findings indicated no significant differences were seen for most assessed children’s and parental dietary nutrients and food group intakes between authoritative parenting style and other three parenting styles. Children’s food group intakes were positively associated with corresponding parental food group intakes, moreover, authoritative parents predicted more child fruits consumption. measured by refined CHES and dietary information were collected by HSFFQ. Spearman’s correlation analyses and multiple linear regression analyses were performed to examine the association between dietary intakes of preschool children/parents and food parenting practices (including 3 constructs and 10 subconstructs). Generally, the main findings indicated that for both preschoolers and their parents, food parenting practices construct—Structure and its subconstructs were positively related to healthy dietary intakes (e.g., fruits) and inversely related to unhealthy dietary intakes (e.g., sweets). The results suggest that food parenting practices for preschoolers are important to consider when trying to improve healthy children’s dietary intakes as well as modify parents’ dietary intakes. This dissertation demonstrated that parenting influence is a key factor for preschoolers on healthy dietary intakes. The results of this study create the opportunity for future investigation of interactive effects between parents’ dietary behavior, parenting influences, and children’s dietary behavior.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Preschool children -- Nutrition.
Parental influences.
Food habits.



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright